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A kontra is a Hungarian (Hungarian: háromhúros brácsa, ‘three-stringed viola’), Czech, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Romani instrument common in Transylvania.

Haromhuros bracsa.png
A kontra shown from the front and the side
String instrument
Other namesHungarian: Háromhúros brácsa, Estonian: Kolmekeelne vioola
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
(Composite chordophone sounded by a bow)
Playing range
g - d - a
Related instruments


The kontra can be constructed new, but is most often classical viola which has undergone several organological changes, for example, thinning ("regraduating") the top, back, and sides to increase the amplitude, and flattening the bridge, which allows the player to sound all three strings at once in order to produce chords. In addition, unlike the viola, they are only strung with three strings.[1]


The kontra is tuned like a viola, though lacking its low c string: g - d' - a' and frequently the a' string is replaced with a second g string tuned to a, a major second above the g, in a form of re-entrant tuning.


Due to the flattened bridge, the standard method of play is to play double stops and three-note chords and let the fiddle play melody lines.

Ensemble playingEdit

The kontra has a defined role within dance band music. Its range lies between that of the fiddle or Vioara cu goarnă on the high-end and the double bass on the low-end. Many Hungarian and Romanian bands also feature the cimbalom or citera, clarinet, accordion, and Ütőgardon or cello.

See alsoEdit